Once upon a time 20 years ago, the average San Francisco home cost the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $400,000. All one had to do was own a million-dollar home (or $1.5 million today) and they could be confidently among San Francisco’s wealthy elite. Ah, it was a simpler time.
But now? Heck, every house costs at least a million dollars. They even advertise it. And the average income for both individuals and families is climbing every year. It takes a lot more riches just to be rich anymore.
So who's rich and who's not in this crazy market? To alleviate this burning question, the local branch of investment firm Charles Schwab commissioned a survey of a 1,000 Bay Area residents to see what they think.To wit: "The survey of 1,000 Bay Area residents found that local residents think it takes about $2.5 million in most areas of the United States to be considered wealthy while a net worth of more than $6 million is what it takes to be wealthy in the Bay Area."
Ignoring for a moment the idea that $2 million doesn’t qualify as rich most places anymore, imagine how embarrassing it must be for anyone worth $3 million to find out that they only rate as middle class in the Bay Area. What will the neighbors think?
Of course, this was only a survey of people’s opinions, meaning it’s less a hard numbers look at the cost of living so much as a glimpse into how people are feeling these days. Eighty-six percent of those polled say that the cost of living in the region is too high, 55 percent say they have trouble meeting their financial goals, and 68 percent say the Bay Area has one of the worst housing markets in the country.
(The other 32 percent are presumably sellers.)